From what I understand, the great majority of us is fighting with our system all the time. The desire to collapse on the chair is so strong and so common that it even feels natural. Yet, we somehow know that collapsing is not good for us and we definitely know that it doesn’t look good! So, what do we do? We hold ourselves up until we collapse again. A constant war between gravity and our decision not to collapse… We pull the chest up, throw the shoulders back, but can’t keep that up for long – THANK GOD!
The ones who do manage to keep themselves pulled up for long are the ones who are more likely to develop chronic pains and spine- or joint-related conditions. You see, nature is more clever than that; she wouldn’t create a design (the human design) that would have to use effort just keep upright. As we go through life we usually lose the natural balancing in our system, so we have to compensate by pulling ourselves up.
F.M. Alexander, the creator of the Alexander Technique found a solution for this universal issue of loss of balance by developing the concept and practice of conscious control – a raised state of awareness that you develop for yourself through the Alexander Technique. Very few people manage to develop this state without the help of a teacher, but if you are willing to try I suggest you get yourself a copy of Alexander’s book ‘The Use of the Self’, where Alexander gives a detailed description of all the stages of his investigation.
A small tip to get you started in this process – whether you are using the help of a teacher or not – is the semi supine or position of constructive rest.
First, find yourself a space in the floor, where you can lie down comfortably. The only material object you will need in this process is a few books to support your head. The next important point is to have the knees bent, aiming towards the ceiling – this will provide support to your lower back.
Now, you are ready to start your semi-supine session.
Let your eyes stay open, so you don’t get sleepy.
Give yourself a few minutes to meet the ground – not holding away, not pushing down.
Head – shoulders – spine – hips – feet.
And now comes the interesting part! This is not an exercise in doing something extra; this is an exercise in ‘non-doing’. Can you stay resting in this position for the next fifteen minutes using as much effort as needed – no more nor less?
As I am typing on my computer writing this text, I am practicing the Alexander Technique. I am engaged in the process of using the amount of effort needed in the activity of typing at the computer – no more and no less. To develop this capacity of ‘non-doing’ many of us need to reduce the level of stimulus.
That’s why the semi-supine or position of constructive rest is the first step of this process…